There have been many impressive aspects of the Texas Rangers this season, and aside from their lineup, one of those aspects is their ability to roll with the punches. For a team that has a laundry list of injuries and went through a terrible losing streak, they find themselves winners of six straight heading into this series with the Guardians. We’ll preview the series’ opening game before going over my play for the first five innings.
The Rangers and Blue Jays series was one of the most intriguing series of the week due to the playoff implications, and the Rangers flat-out manhandled Toronto for four games. With last night’s 9-2 win, Texas has now scored six or more runs in five straight games and stands in sole possession of the second wild-card spot. Last night, Corey Seager continued to dominate Toronto’s pitching staff by going 3-4 with a home run and three RBIs.
As they look for their seventh straight win and to cause more chaos in the AL West division, the Rangers will have right-hander Jon Gray on the mound tonight. It’s been a rough start to September for the veteran, as he’s thrown 7.2 innings and allowed six earned runs on 11 hits and six walks. Texas can only hope he turns it around and fast since Max Scherzer will miss the rest of the season, leaving the rotation thin moving forward.
The Guardians team that Gray will face tonight has essentially eliminated themselves from the playoffs with their recent play. After losing a series to the Twins, the Guardians have lost two straight series, including their most recent one against the Giants, which culminated with a 6-5 loss on Wednesday. Cleveland would score five runs in the first two innings of that game before being held scoreless the rest of the game and losing in extra innings.
Cleveland will be starting one of the pieces they acquired off the waiver wire, as Lucas Giolito will make his third start for the team. The right-hander’s start to his Guardians career has been less than ideal, with two straight losses under his belt and an 11.70 ERA with six home runs allowed in ten innings.
The Rangers F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (+102), and I’ll be backing them for my play. Texas is the second most profitable F5 run line team in this league this season, while the Guardians are the 3rd least profitable F5 team while playing at home. These two teams are headed in opposite directions, with Texas still fighting for a divisional crown and the Guardians four losses away from being eliminated from the Wild Card race.
Coming into tonight’s game, Lucas Giolito is in the 35th percentile in expected ERA and the 25th percentile in hard-hit percentage. Those numbers don’t garner a lot of confidence that he can turn it around to end the season, especially since he takes on a Rangers lineup that is hitting .262 and ranks 9th in OPS and wRC+ and 5th in hard hit percentage against righties on the road since August 15th.
Jon Gray has undoubtedly struggled as of late, but he is still in the 79th percentile in barrel percentage, and he’ll face a Guardians lineup that has entirely fallen apart at the dish. Over the past month, Cleveland is hitting .247 and ranks 30th in hard hit percentage, 27th in OPS, and 24th in wRC+. With the momentum the Rangers have, I think they can roll right through the first five innings and build a lead.
Texas Rangers F5 (-.5)(+102)